Winter exercise tips
Monday 1st December
Don't allow the cold weather to put you off your stride. Keep up with your exercise regime through the winter months, with the benefit of some expert advice.
Dave Bradley, from Holmfirth in the Pennines, is an experienced triathlete, orienteer and fell runner. He's been coaching triathletes for the past four years and here shares his tips for staying motivated when it's cold and wet outside. “The world doesn't stop when summer does, and there's nothing like running along with the wind and rain lashing into your face,” Dave enthuses. “It's a whole different world when you exercise in winter. Go out there and savour the experience!”
Explore the season's opportunities
- Maximise daylight hours. “You can still exercise outside, as there's plenty of daylight,” says Dave. “And it's important at this time of year to get some vitamin D in the weak winter sunshine; it's very therapeutic.” Dave recommends a walk or a jog during your lunch hour, then heading outdoors at the weekend, too. Exercising outside in the dark, under the stars, can be equally inspiring, he adds.
- Find extra motivation. Joining an organised activity or competing in an event injects the fun back into exercise. Dave recommends Parkrun's free five-kilometre runs, the urban street events organised by British Orienteering and even “tough guy” assault courses.
- Put in some planning. Decide on a time to exercise and stick to it. “The easiest thing is to look outside and think 'it's wet, it's cold, I'll stay inside'. But if you've planned your session for 10am, and you look out the window and it's raining, just put on your waterproofs and off you go.”
Find alternative ways to exercise
- Turbo trainers. “You can go out cycling during the daylight hours or at the weekend, but when it's dark on a Thursday night you can put your bicycle on a turbo trainer (from £50) and do a really nice session either using a video or watching the TV, or a high intensity interval training (HIIT) session.”
- Swimming. “When it's cold and wet outside, go swimming. It might be wet, but it's indoors! Try your local pool, particularly if it's a 50-metre pool as that makes it more interesting.”
- Conditioning. “Winter's about base training, preparation for next year when you might be doing a challenge, a run, or a marathon. There are plenty of yoga DVDs and Pilates DVDs that will set you up for spring.”
Be safety conscious
- Be seen. “Going out in the dark is not a big deal, as long as you're equipped for it,” says Dave. “A fluorescent running vest is cheap to buy, and I always take a torch as well. If a car's coming, you just flash the torch on the floor so that people can see you.”
- Keep warm and dry. Make sure you have warm layers, a waterproof jacket and over-trousers. “Wrap up for the weather and, if it's a cold day, add some extra thin layers,” says Dave. “Unfortunately in the UK it does rain and if you get wet, and all your clothes are wet, then your body temperature cools down really quickly and you stand a chance of hypothermia.”
- Stay alert. Don't let your personal playlist distract you. “It's particularly pertinent when you're biking,” says Dave. “Personally I would say if you're going to wear earphones wear one. Particularly if it's dark and it's windy, you need to be aware of what's going on around you.”